Janesville73°

Milton sets fine for bullying

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
July 21, 2010
— See Dick shove a classmate into a school locker. See Jane call a fellow student a name. See Dick and Jane get a $100 city ordinance ticket.

That storyline could play out in Milton School District, following Milton City Councilís approval Tuesday of fines for a city ordinance aimed at stemming youth bullying.


The ordinance, which was approved by the city council in June, localizes Wisconsinís statute on harassment, stripping it of its criminal element.


Itís designed to curb harassment citywide, for all agesóbut local law enforcement officials say the ordinance focuses on a key area: It allows certain types of youth bullying complaints to be prosecuted through the cityís municipal court.


Fines for the ordinance could cost first-time offenders a maximum fine of $100, and second-time offenders $500, plus court costs.


The fines go into effect in time for the 2010-2011 school year, officials said.


The Milton Police Department plans to use the ordinance as a tool to strengthen existing school bullying policies, creating more incentive for bullied youths to step forward and report cases of repeated harassment, officials said.


Although Milton Police Chief Jerry Schuetz said Tuesday that police and the school district havenít developed a full plan to implement the ordinance at school, he said itís designed to defuse bullying before it leads to potentially more severe problems at school.


ďIt gives us an intermediate step to hold people accountable without unnecessarily entering them into the criminal justice system,Ē Schuetz said.


He said the ordinance most directly confronts face-to-face physical or verbal bullying, such as pushing, shoving, name-calling and teasing.


Jim Martin, school resource officer for the Milton Police Department, said earlier this week police plan to draw from student complaints and school records to investigate complaints about repetitive youth harassment.


He said youth offenders would get one warning before possibly being ticketed.


Students under 16 would be sent before a municipal judge for a hearing, while older students could opt to simply pay the ticket, officials said.



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